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Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1989 Jul;191(3):221-6.

1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 and the regulation of human cancer cell replication.

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Bone and Mineral Research Group, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, St. Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia.


Several human and animal cancer cell lines have been shown to possess specific high affinity receptors for 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25-(OH)2D3). The replication of several of these cell types has also been shown to be regulated by this hormone, both in vitro and in vivo. To further understand the mechanisms of these actions, we have examined cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. The in vitro studies extend our previous reports on the treatment of human breast cancer cells (T 47D) with 10(-9) to 10(-6) M 1,25-(OH)2D3, which resulted in a dose- and time-dependent decrease in cell numbers over 6 days. Treatment with 10(-8) M 1,25-(OH)2D3, which reduced cell numbers to approximately one half of those found in control cultures at 6 days, was associated with a doubling of the proportion of cells in the G2 + M phase of the cell cycle and was accompanied by a significant decline in the proportion of G0/G1 cells. At higher concentrations there was a significant decline in S phase cells with accumulation of cells in both G0/G1 and G2 + M phases. The antiestrogen, tamoxifen, at a concentration which caused similar effects on cell number, resulted in proportional decreases in both S and G2 + M phase cells and accumulation of G0/G1 cells. The effects of 1,25-(OH)2D3 on T 47D cell proliferation were associated with time- and concentration-dependent reductions in epidermal growth factor receptor levels to a minimum level of about half that seen in control cultures. The in vivo experiments extend our previous studies, which demonstrated marked inhibition of the growth of human cancer xenografts in immunosuppressed mice by 1,25-(OH)2D3. Xenograft growth was inhibited with 1,25-(OH)2D3 (0.1 microgram ip three times per week) but growth was rapidly restored when the 1,25-(OH)2D3 was withdrawn. Thus, there are clear-cut time- and dose-dependent, yet reversible, effects of 1,25-(OH)2D3 on the replication of human cancer cells in vitro and in vivo, which are possibly mediated through changes in growth factor receptor levels. Further study of these effects may advance understanding of the hormonal control of cellular replication in human cancers.

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